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Historically Black KC fire station receives portion of grant from National Park Service

Station 11
Posted at 10:45 PM, Mar 24, 2024

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Deputy Fire Chief James Kelley believes "you can't talk about the history of the Kansas City Fire Department without mentioning the history of the Black firefighter."

“In order to understand where we need to be, we got to understand the history," Kelley said. "We need to understand where we come from."

Station 11, located at 2033 Vine Street, was home to KCFD's first Black firefighters.

RELATED | Historical plaque honors Station 11, 1st all-Black fire station in Kansas City

Pat Jordan, who serves as president of The Gem Cultural and Educational Center, is working to preserve the history of the station.

“They were really figures of hope and they were community leaders,” Jordan said. “People in the community are beginning to recognize how important it is to preserve our history and culture not unlike we did before.” 

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Thanks to the Underrepresented Communities Grant from the National Park Service, the area's first all-Black fire station will receive financial aid to keep its doors open.

“Kansas City saw the loss of African American historic sites, and they moved forward with understanding how we need to recognize the community," said Jeffrey Williams, director of city planning and development for KCMO. "Now, we are taking that next step to make sure that they get listed and that they have access to more funds to keep them well preserved."

Williams said the grant will also help other locally recognized landmarks shine on a national level. 

“We value culture. As a community, as we’ve experienced loss of resources; we've pivoted to bring opportunity to recognize,” Williams said. "So this will allow us to take a look at infrastructure across the entire community that supported African Americans — whether it be where they worshiped, where they worked or where they were educated.”